Serena (2014): Jennifer Lawrence in Depressing Drama

Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence in Serena

There may be a few films on offer that are more depressing than the 2014 drama Serena, but one feels it would be difficult to find them. The film, directed by Susanne Bier and starring Jennifer Lawrence and Bradley Cooper is set during the Great Depression and tells the story of a lumber baron and his lady love who  lose everything by the final reel. 

The drama was a long time coming to the US, after premiering in London and doing abysmally at the box office, it took another year for the film to make it across the big pond to be shown in a limited release and then heading straight to on-demand streaming. While the film does look sumptuous, with the Czech Republic doubling for the Smoky Mountains, the plot is off-putting and contains too many holes and illogical twists to make it entertaining.

Bradley Cooper is lumber magnate George Pemberton, who falls in love with Serena Shaw (Jennifer Lawrence) at first sight. Apparently Shaw’s father, who died with the rest of her family in a horrific house fire, was a lumber baron in Colorado. The two marry after a whirlwind romance and Serena comes back to the Smoky Mountains to help George run his lumber business.

A number of things happen, George’s best friend and partner Mr. Buchanan (David Dencik) hates the new woman in his friend’s life. He makes no bones about his distaste for Serena who sets about winning over everyone else. 

Everyone, that is, bar Rachel ( Ana Ularu), the local girl who has had George’s baby “on the wrong side of the sheets.” She hovers around the lumber camp working her old job while Pemberton gives her money for his illegitimate son. Serena is soon pregnant and an accident on the mountainside results in her losing the baby. She will not be able to have another one and the woman becomes more than distraught. 

Therein lies one of the problems with the film. Lawrence, as Serena, certainly delivers in terms of performance literally chewing up great chunks of emotion and spewing them out. Then falling apart when things go wrong at the end. The loss of the baby is meant to be the main cause of her deadly turn but from the very first Serena Pemberton, Nee’ Shaw, has been proactive in terms of “taking out the opposition.”

She encourages her husband to murder his friend and  business partner and this before she miscarries. The backstory to her character could lead one to believe that there was more than one reason that she survived that house fire, but it is never addressed fully.

Serena’s change from strong positive role model, she trains an eagle to kill rattlesnakes to murderous b*tch from hell does not track, especially when considering her orders to George about killing Buchanan. The loss of the baby does not introduce her cold blooded side, that was present before, but that is what the film does seem to be saying.

Cooper does an adequate job as George but sadly his character is too cold, aloof and (Sorry Bradley) passionless to be likable. One feels it was his money that attracted Serena, just as it attracted the camp washer girl Rachel. There is never one thing that stands out about Pemberton apart from the clear lust he has for his new wife.

Perhaps the only thing that works well is the chemistry between the two, in the love scenes that is. It is, unfortunately, not enough to carry the whole thing along. The creepy Galloway (Rhys Ifans) “he has visions,” is odd enough that one wonders why he is kept on, especially after he becomes oddly devoted to Serena and begins to murder for her.

All the actors deliver. Toby Jones (Wayward Pines,  Berberian Sound Studio) is brilliantly annoying as the small town sheriff with big plans for a national park and a clear animosity towards Pemberton. Sean Harris, as Campbell, is excellent as the doomed chap with a conscience and Ana Ularu as the simpleminded single mom of George’s child is spot on.

*Sidenote* Ularu manages to be doubly annoying as she fluctuates between either moping around the camp or gloatingly playing with George’s love child in front of Serena. One can easily see the new wife getting fed up with having this local yokel hanging around.

For all the beauty of the cinematography and the powerhouse acting involved, the film is depressing  and lacking any real empathy for any of the characters. No one is likable enough  for the audience to care when these bad things happen to them.  Whether it is the fault of Susanne Bier or the script failing to make the characters more sympathetic does not really matter. The film just does not work.

At 109 minutes, the film feels longer and perhaps the pacing could have been picked up a tad although even that may not have saved this third outing of Cooper and Lawrence.   This is a 3 out of 5 stars, the movie does get a full star for the beauty of the locations, and is streaming on US Netflix at the moment. Overall a very disappointing offering from the duo who made Silver Linings Playbook sizzle and crackle.

Hannibal: Wrath of the Lamb Season Finale (recap and review)

Hannibal Season 3

It is fitting that the season finale of Hannibal is a blood drenched and painful looking spectacle. The shocking end of the Lector/Graham love affair has the two working together to kill The Great Red Dragon. The scene, at the end is almost balletic and is horrifically beautiful. Hannibal and Will make a good team. Too good, apparently, hence Graham’s fatal decision at the end. The finale starts where last week’s episode ended.

Last week in Hannibal we saw Dolarhyde had taken Reba and brought her to his home. This week, in The Wrath of the Lamb, she is in the house. Francis “tests” his former lover by giving her the key to the front door. He tells her to lock the door and when she opts to open it and run, Francis is on the outside. He takes Reba back upstairs and forces her to put the key around his neck and feel his shotgun.

After splashing petrol (gasoline) everywhere, he sets it alight and saying that he cannot bear to watch Reba burn to death “shoots” himself. In essence the shotgun blast blows a huge hole in his head, one that Reba can feel as she takes the key from Francis’ neck. She wraps a blanket around herself and crawls out of the house as the fire spreads.

The beauty of this scene is both overwhelming and surreal. The disjointed and distorted piano notes caressing the set piece along with the fire caressing the ceiling and walls, is fluid and sweeping. As with all of the scenes in Hannibal the crowning glory is  the jarring gore; that piece of Francis’ flesh stuck to Reba’s forehead. The tissue that landed there when she put the key around her neck.

*Sidenote* Rutina Wesley, kills it in the first of this season finale. Her performance as the blind Reba has been memorable from day one and her own “finale” was just perfect.

After the opening credits, Reba speaks with Will Graham as she recovers from her harrowing ordeal. McClane may be scarred “He shot himself in the face, I put my hand in it,” she says, not once but twice, this is clearly something Reba will never forget.  Graham tells her that in the end, Dolarhyde could not kill her, nor could he stand to see her die.

Later, we learn that this is not true. Francis never intended for Reba to die, she was meant to escape and verify his death, leaving him free to exact his revenge on Will Graham and Hannibal Lector.

She points out, to Will,  that she drew a freak.  He corrects her and says she drew a man with a freak on his back.

Will: “There is nothing wrong with you.”

Reba: “I know there’s nothing wrong with me. In making friends, I try to be wary of people who foster dependency and feed on it. I’ve been with a few. The blind attract them.”

Will: (He knows. He has attracted his own.) “Not just the blind.”

Graham goes to see Hannibal and tells him “Ding, dong the dragon’s dead.” Lector asks if congratulations are in order and Will tells him that he did not kill Dolarhyde. “I was rooting for you Will,” says Hannibal. He then taunts Graham over Chilton’s punishment and congratulates him for the job he did on the doctor.

Will tells Hannibal that he will go home now that Dolarhyde is gone and Lector tells him it will never be the same. Graham reveals to Hannibal that he knows why he turned himself in.  “Will,” Hannibal asks, “was it good to see me.” “No,” Will replies.

After their exchange Will returns to his motel. At his  room, Francis Dolarhyde incapacitates Graham, attacking him from behind. The Great Red Dragon is not dead after all. After knocking Will out, Dolarhyde wakes him up and Will says, “You didn’t break my back.” The two talk and Francis reveals that he believes that Lector betrayed him. Graham tells The Dragon  that he needs to change Hannibal Lector.

Later, the Coroner double-act reveal to Jack Crawford that the headless and burnt body was not that of Dolarhyde but the man he kidnapped earlier, Arnold Lang. Afterward, Will sells Jack on letting Lector be the bait for Dolarhyde. “Allow” Hannibal to escape drawing the Dragon to him so he can be destroyed.

Hannibal - Season 3
Jack Crawford, Dr. Bloom and Will talk strategy and Hannibal’s fate.

Will tells Bedelia of the plan and she is furious and terrified. Du Maurier believes that Hannibal will be after her to kill and eat her.  “Who holds the Devil, let him hold him well,” says Bedelia. She warns Will, “He will hardly be caught a second time.” “I don’t intend  Hannibal to be caught a second time,” Will responds.

“Can’t live with him, can’t live without him,”  Bedelia taunts Will, “Is that what this is?”

“I guess,” Will replies.

After a little more conversation, Will gets up and tells Bedelia, “I’d pack my bags if I were you. Meat’s back on the menu.” Du Maurier gets her claws out, “You righteous, reckless, twitchy little man. He might as well cut all our throats and be done with it.” Will gets the last word, “Ready or not,” Will says, “Here he comes.”

Alana visits the burnt and scarred Frederick. Chilton reveals that he blames Bloom as well for his disfigurement. He tells Alana that he would like to have Hannibal’s skin. “You were never comfortable in your own skin,” she tells Frederick, “you would not be comfortable in Hannibal’s.”

“Are you,” asks Chilton.

Dr. Bloom tells Hannibal of the deal, he gets all privileges restored for playing along. Lector requests that Will ask him personally, and he wants Graham to say “Please.” Hannibal also threaten’s Bloom. (Later, after the “escape” Alana, Margo and their baby flee their mansion in case Hannibal comes calling.)

The plan is to release Lector into police custody and “let him escape” allowing Francis an opportunity to contact Hannibal.  The real plan is to kill Dolarhyde and Lector, according to Crawford. Will goes to see Lector and after a short “reprimand” from Hannibal “Now you have to pick the mic back up,” Graham does indeed say “Please.”

After delivering Hannibal to the federal authorities, he and Will are transported via a small motorcade. A police car comes up and, lights flashing, pulls up to the lead car. Dolarhyde is driving and he shoots the cop driving the lead vehicle causing it to crash. The domino effect of the first car crash takes out the entire convoy of vehicles. The van crashes and Will smacks his head into a window, he is semi-conscious when Dolarhyde arrives.

Dolarhyde releases Hannibal from his cage in the back of the van and drives away.

Hannibal - Season 3
The Dragon goes to the police van and releases Hannibal.

Hannibal climbs out of the van and takes off his straightjacket. Going to the closest police car, he drags the dead cop out of the driver’s seat while Will gets out of the van. Driving the car around, Lector pushes the other dead policeman out of the passenger seat, “Going my way,” he asks Will. Afterward, Jack Crawford surveys the carnage and we see Alana leave Mansion Verger with her little family.

Will and Hannibal are at the cliff-top house and Lector points out that the bluff is still eroding. He tells Will, “You and I are suspended over the roiling Atlantic. Soon all of this will be lost to the sea.”

Back in the house, Hannibal has wine and two glasses, he pours Will a glass and tells him  “My passion for you is inconvenient.” Will responds, “If you’re partial to beef products, it is inconvenient to be compassionate toward a cow.” After a little more conversation Graham tells Hannibal, “He is watching us now.”

Hannibal - Season 3
Dolarhyde moves in for the kill.

“I know,” Hannibal replies just before  a silenced bullet passes through his torso and smashes the wine bottle. Thus begins the long, protracted battle between the two men and the Great Red Dragon. It is brutal, dark, bloody and akin to a slow motion ballet. Blood spurts in fountains of black as the battle goes outside the house and into the moonlight and the two men, who are two sides of the same coin, orchestrate Dolarhyde’s death.

Disturbingly, yet not surprisingly, the men work as an effective team. Both suffer dearly from the wounds dealt by Francis as the Dragon. (One shot has Will seeing the Dragon approach Hannibal, wings extended, as it reaches for his intended victim.)

At the end of the battle, the Great Red Dragon is bloodily and violently banished. Will looks at his claret covered hands:

Will: “It really does look black in the moonlight.”

Hannibal: “See. This is all I ever wanted for you, Will. For both of us.”

Will: (laughing softly) “It’s beautiful.”

The two survivors embrace on the edge of the Atlantic clifftop and Will leans out over the edge, toppling the two out into space and down to the ocean below. After the end credits, we see Bedelia Du Maurier sitting at a large table groaning with food. In the middle is a rolled “long pig” (slang for human meat) and she is clearly waiting for Hannibal to arrive.

This episode, while a bit final (surely no one can survive that long drop to the rocks and ocean below) was a satisfactory ending to the series. NBC may have opted to end the story of Hannibal Lector and Will Graham but they have, at least, left us with a  brilliant legacy of dark beauty and horrible visions.

Surreal and sublime, the show offered feast as orgasmic delight, all the more so if the meal was of “long pig” dressed with sauces and side dishes to “die for.”

Kudos to both Hugh Dancy and Mads Mikkelsen for their double act  and the fitting finale. Director Michael Rymer never let us forget that these two actors made their character’s so alike that they became the mirror image of one another.

Hannibal - Season 3
Hannibal, in the reflection is clearly the reflection of Will and vice versa.

Despite the disappointment of having both main characters apparently expire, this was clearly the right ending for the series. Graham was never going to be comfortable with his transformation (his Becoming) to Hannibal, even if it was necessary in order to kill Dolarhyde.

This show will be sorely missed. Its dark beauty and horrible specters will have to haunt via reruns now. RIP Lector and Graham.

Chef (2014) Falling in Love with Food and Jon Favreau

Jon Favreau and John Leguizamo

Written, directed, and starring, Jon Favreau, Chef is the 2014 film that could and did make the world fall in love with the food and the man who brought this small budget independent film to life. Proving that a film with no violence, sex or explosive action could be a hit, the Iron Man, and Cowboys and Aliens director showed that a film about a “cook” was profitable and enjoyable.

Starring Scarlett Johansson,Oliver PlattDustin Hoffman, Sofia Vergara, Bobby Cannavale,John Leguizamo, new actor Emjay Anthony (with a cameo from Robert Downey Jr) the film follows Chef Carl Casper (Favreau)  who inadvertently gets into a Twitter fight with food critic Ramsey Michel (Platt). The feud escalates until Casper accosts Michel in Riva’s (Hoffman) restaurant and the event goes viral on YouTube. The chef leaves the restaurant and on his ex-wife Inez’s (Vergara) advice takes on running a food truck. 

The film follows Casper’s journey to rediscover his self respect, his relationship with his son and his ex-wife. The movie could be called a combination of travelogue and social media training film. Part of the film’s plot deals heavily with Twitter, and a little with Facebook, Vine and YouTube. The brilliant young actor Emjay Anthony’s character, Percy who is Casper’s son, is a wizard on the sites and uses his social media know-how to help his dad get business.

After a few hiccups, Percy and Casper clean up a junked out food truck, financed by Inez’s ex-husband Marvin (Downey Jr.) and Carl’s old Sous Chef Martin (Leguizamo) from Riva’s joins him. The three get the van up and running and they travel back to Los Angeles from Miami and stop at several landmark cities along the way.

It is virtually impossible to watch this film and not feel the compulsion to drool at the screen while Casper, Martin and Percy cook up Cubanos sandwiches.  Favreau hired food truck chef Roy Choi to provide technical guidance and consultant. At the end of the credits Choi is seen showing Favreau how to make the perfect grilled cheese sandwich.

The film works so well, in the food department, that it almost seems like a documentary instead of a movie. (There is one moment where Favreau’s character calls and talks to an agent who wants him to do reality TV, and appear on Hell’s Kitchen, “Like Honey Boo Boo?” says a horrified Casper.)

While watching the movie could well result in the viewer helplessly craving Cuban food, or beignets, not to mention stifling the urge to get up and dance to that addictive music, it is the acting that sells this film. From Favreau to the tiny cameos from Hoffman and Robert Downey Jr. (Kudos to the  Iron Man star for reminding us of those days when he played douche bags so brilliantly, in case fans have forgotten check out Weird Science, his high school character was such a jerk. Of course it could be argued that as Tony Stark, his character’s have changed very little…)

Chef may not be 2014’s answer to the 1981 film On Golden Pond, another non-violent, no sex film that entertained brilliantly but it hits the spot. Favreau pulls off the cooking in the film and his costars all perform admirably. Kudos to Hoffman as the snotty restauranteur and Oliver Platt as the food critic is just brilliant.

The biggest surprise is the youngster who plays Casper’s son Percy. Emjay Anthony sells it 100 percent and makes the boy believable. When Percy interacts with Carl it feels natural and true, they help to bind the ingredients of the film in a real and lovely way.

A quick word about the film’s score.

Magic.

That is all, just…magic, like the film.

With no car chases, no gratuitous violence and no nudity, there could be many who would give Chef a pass, but the box office returns proves that many were ready for a film about food and family. This is a real 6 out of 5 stars, the math may not add up, but honestly this is a brilliant feel-good film not to be missed. Streaming on US Netflix right now, put on your bib and feel free to drool at the food while enjoying the scenery and the performances.

Dark Matter: Joseph Mallozzi Talks Season Finale and Season Two

Dark Matter Season 1

On August 26, after watching the season one finale of Dark Matter, MikesFilmTalk (MFT) got to interview show runner, creator, and executive producer Joseph Mallozzi.

Dark Matter is the latest offering from the man whose name is synonymous with science fiction. The award winning writer/producer has been involved with all three Stargate shows, SG1, Atlantis and Universe.

Joseph and I have been direct messaging on Twitter since I began writing reviews and recaps of Dark Matter and the first thing I discovered when talking to him on the phone is that Mr. Mallozzi is one heck of a nice chap.

During our call, Joseph spoke of many things; not, however, ships and sails and sealing wax,  but the topics were varied.

Dark Matter Cast: Anthony Lemke is not like his character but in some  ways, he can be. When someone new shows up on set, it is Anthony who automatically  meets and greets the visitor.

Jodelle Ferland is the most experienced in terms of acting. Jodelle has been working since the ripe old age of 2 and now at 20, she has a total of 18 years in front of the camera.

Jodelle and Roger both lived near Joseph, as did many of the cast and crew,  and it made for a real feeling of family.

Roger Cross and Jodelle  Ferland used to watch The Walking Dead at Joseph’s place, along with his girlfriend, and he would make  milkshakes for the occasion.

Dark Matter - Season 1
Jodelle Ferland (Five) and Roger Cross (Six). “The Walking Dead Fans.”

Alex Mallari Jr came across as such as nice and open person in conversations after auditions that Joseph actually began to secretly root for him to play Four. Once he had been cast,  Alex also had to come in very early each day to have his tattoos  covered up before filming. He got up even earlier to work out every day.

Julie Benz (Star of Defiance, another SyFy Friday show) used to walk her dogs in the same park that Joseph walks his and they talked quite often. She is, Joseph says, “A very nice lady.”

None of the Dark Matter cast knew the ending until right before shooting on episode 1.13 began. Joseph took the entire group of actors aside and revealed “the reveal.”

Dark Matter Season Finale:

MFT:  Thank you so much for having a chat with me tonight. I’ve got to tell you I just finished watching the season finale and have one thing to say, “Wow!”

Joseph: Well, when I first envisioned this show, or conceived the show and had the initial concept,  I had two big moments in my mind that I wanted to hit.  Everything else sort of fell into place. Those two big moments were; the big reveal in the pilot where they find out  that they are murderers and mercenaries and the last sequence of the finale where the Galactic Authority sweeps in and you see all our familiar surroundings…The feeling of the ship was like a home away from home in many ways.  Not just for the characters but for the viewers as well and to see all these strangers come and take it (the ship) and to see everyone carted off and the last shot is the empty corridor and   Andy Mikita, the director of the episode, did a wonderful  job there.

MFT: Plus you get that moment of unreality where you see that Six is walking out. And you’re like “Oh no!”

Joseph: Right. Exactly.

MFT: The first thing I thought was, “Six?? He’s the grown up of the group. It can’t be him.”

Joseph: Well, I’ll just say, there’s more to the story there. It’s not as simple as…on the surface it looks like he’s just turned against them but there’s more there…A few hints that are in the episode and then if we get a season two…Well, we’ve already got a game plan and everything will be explained in the second season. And there will be a lot more questions.  If you thought season one’s finale was big, ooh you wait till you see the end of season two.

MFT: Jumping now to Five and the conversation that she had with Six – it seemed to me that everyone kept putting a gun in her hand over the last two episodes.

Joseph: Yes, yes…

MFT: And she tells Six now I’m more like you and he says that ironically they’ve all be trying to be more like her and failing. To me, Five is the most mysterious member out of the entire crew, we know least about her out of everyone else on the ship. She is my favorite character, I refer to her as the “Artful Dodger,” she was the street kid who picked pockets to survive and I thought it was interesting that when she heard the recording her level of trust went right out the window. It shows just how fragile their relationships all are.

Joseph: I’m curious, Michael, as you watched the finale and you drew toward the end…Did you have any suspicions, a suspect?

MFT: I decided it was Five, especially after the tape (recording) and the reveal that she could do so much more than we ever suspected, like programming and so on, and that the dream, at the beginning of the episode, revealed that her experience with this bunch on the ship was pretty abysmal and  this caused her to wipe everyone’s memories so they could all start fresh. Am I miles away here?

Joseph: Not really, you are fairly close.  All the pieces are there to figure out. I said to the crew, the cast, just before we started filming on episode 13…We actually had 12 out of 13 episodes scripted before we went to film except for the last one. Even then. we kept  the reveal a secret except for the last day and I gathered the cast on the bridge like an Agatha Christie moment, “I’ve gathered you all here…” Which, incidentally, we ended up filming and that we’ll release as a  special feature.

Dark Matter - Season 1
Five, the memory wiper…

Joseph: I told the cast that the person who wiped their (character’s) memories may not be the one to worry about. She (Five) finds the recording,  she overhears Two and Four threatening someone and she confides in him and Six, who at this point becomes savvy about certain things has pieced it together and realizes that she is the one who wiped everyone’s  memories. Like the Android points out in Episode 3, the code was rushed because they had to get to the stasis pod, maybe that was not the original intent…And again this is something we’ll explore further down the road…But in all probability she was going to target certain memories and as a result of the accident,  or the rushed code,  wipes everyone’s, including her own. She asks Six, “Well why would I do this” and he says to protect someone. It’s clear now why she did it and who needed protecting.

MFT: Well, I’ve got to say that I love everything that you guys have done and for me everything clicks into place. Sorry, this is turning more into a fan-boy gush than a  Q&A.

Joseph: That’s all right I love it, I love feedback.

MFT: I mentioned, in my notes for the finale preview, that we finally meet Two’s Geppetto and he turns out to be an evil bugger strapped in a bed. It is not even Will Wheaton’s character as he is the tool, or instrument, of the bed-ridden man.

Joseph: This is another one of those moments where more questions arise. You know the man ask Alex, “How old is this body?” Alex replies “24,” so you see what happens. Indeed, what does happen? Why does  this individual need a body and his regular forms deteriorate so his team are working on developing a superior form which is why they created her (Rebecca/Two/Portia Lynn) and why they are working on another prototype. And the work is so secret that they cannot allow  her or the crew of the Raza to survive. If we do get a second season there will be more to come on that front.

Dark Matter - Season 1
Rebecca/Two the first prototype…

MFT: I love that whole part of that storyline. I mentioned  in my review that the first thing I thought of was the video game Mass Effect 2 with Miranda Lawson, the genetically enhanced “perfect” human character. I love the way the show gives nods and winks to other works in the genre.

Joseph: My influences for the show were varied. I mean I grew up being into comic books and anime, science fiction and television, film. We like to drop the occasional tributes throughout, and we used to do the same in “Stargate.”

MFT: I just love it. Going back to show and the actors, a lot of whom (my apologies to the cast here) I’d never heard of before the show, Zoie Palmer’s Android goes through the ultimate of almost sacrificing herself for Two, will she get a chance to do that again, but this time for more than just Two?

Joseph: Well, you know, Paul (Mullie) and I have convened an early writer’s room, we haven’t heard whether there will be a season two but we are fairly confident…We have the 13 episode game plan, we have the beginning, middle and the end. We have the major moments that we want to hit and we have 7 out of the 13 episodes outlined and we have some great stuff planned for all our crew, including the Android.

MFT: Speaking of other cast members, my first question for Alex Mallari Jr as Four, is did you channel your inner Caine. [Joseph laughs] You know, “Accused of a crime he did not commit, Caine is forced to flee his country…”

Joseph: It’s funny you know. That when we held auditions, I had to call several actors back, around 50 or so, and Alex was so honest and open that I ended up secretly rooting for him to get the part of Four.

Dark Matter - Season 1
Nice chap…Alex Mallari Jr, aka Four.

Joseph: He does a great job as do the entire cast.

MFT: Alex does come across as incredibly sincere on screen. I’ve sort of (rightly or wrongly) classed him as a sort of Jean-Claude Van Damme, a very fit chap, martial artist who wanted to act and is very good at it.

Joseph: He makes it look easy but Alex is the one, I mention it on the blog, who gets up at three in the morning to get his tattoos covered each day and then on top of that has to work out. It is amazing how many weapons he mastered for the first season.

MFT: I’ve got to ask, re: Two…Are there any other personalities in there, First there was Two, then Portia and now Rebecca…

Joseph: No. Those were just names, not personalities. Alex called her Rebecca and when she left she became Portia. It is interesting to note that the name she took for herself, she abandoned Rebecca for Portia and essentially she also abandons  Portia  to become Two.

MFT: I’ve just got to mention Will Wheaton’s character. I adore Wheaton anyway, since his days as Wesley Crusher on Star Trek: The Next Generation, and everything else he’s done. His Alex was so snotty as a villain and yet the second things get rough, he’s gone.  Alex points out that Rebecca has nothing wrong with her. There is no flaw, so essentially she is just naturally aggressive.

Joseph: Yes. [laughing]

MFT: Just out of curiosity, did you have an “alternate” ending set up? I know that you said this was your ending from day one, but did you have a “plan b” if things went a different direction? Or was it always going to be that situation where everyone was all out and “down for the count” at the end?

Joseph: Yes! I always approach each installment of each season like a book with a  definite beginning, middle and end. So basically as a result of what happens in the finale, season two heads off into a wild and very different direction. But it was always that way…I knew who the mole was going to be and one of the great things about the show was we had time to really develop the stories. Basically it allowed us to seed in little clues and hints along the way.  

Dark Matter - Season 1
Zoie Palmer as The Android

Joseph: You know it’s funny, I just saw, on the internet, where someone posted a photo from episode 3 where the Android is about to go out on her EVA and she turns to Two and Two says, “We can’t do this without you.” And Android says, Well, you can” and then turns around and leaves. I remember people going on line and saying what a weird inflection for her to say “you can.” And other people going “no, no, no, that was just the way the actress’s delivered the line.”  The entire first season was peppered with little clues and hints. One, I’ll leave with you, I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but the individual who flanks Six in the “slow walk” out at the end, you’ve seen before.

MFT: I thought he looked familiar! But to be honest, I was still too flummoxed at Six walking out while everyone else was carted out…I did think,  “Blimey he looks familiar” and the more I think about it, I seem to remember seeing him at the mining community, if I’m not mistaken.

Joseph: You are mistaken!

MFT: Darn! I’ll have to look this one up now [I’ve still not figured out where this chap was before, although I think it was at the General’s camp where Six went for revenge.] I’ve got to ask, was it One that Two and Four wanted to “off?”

Joseph: Well, all that will be revealed in season 2, it could have been One or it could have been Six…That will all be explored more in the next season. It is safe, though, to assume it is one of those two.

MFT: What was the biggest difference between working on Dark Matter and Stargate?

Joseph: Miles different. For a start I was playing in someone else’s sandbox essentially. In Dark Matter we got to tell our own stories, although we did to an extent in Stargate as well. There were differences in budget obviously and things were set up differently. Of course we were working on 13 episodes for Dark Matter versus 22 or 20 and in Stargate we had all the stories in advance and that was such a luxury.  In terms of our own show, everything was planned accordingly, Paul and I planned for each episode and we knew we weren’t going to run out of money at the end of the year.

The interview finished shortly after and Joseph revealed two things. One, he is a huge Stephen Chow fan (Shaolin Soccer) and he is pretty confident that Dark Matter will get the pick up for season two.

Sadly, it looks like the Time Zone God, or perhaps the Jet Lag Deity has sabotaged the Alex Mallari Jr. interview for now.  MikesFilmTalk will be covering Dark Matter, season two, if it is picked up and I have already put in requests to speak with Joelle Ferland and Anthony Lemke and Zoie Palmer and Alex and…

MikesFilmTalk would like to thank Joseph Mallozzi for taking time out of his busy evening for chatting about: Dark Matter, why Canadian TV has so many great shows out at the moment and a slew of other subjects that did not make into this interview.

Dark Matter - Season 1
Melissa O’Neil and Anthony Lemke, Two and Three…
Dark Matter - Season 1
Mark BenDavid aka One – opting not to kill Three…

Defiance: Upon the March We Fittest Die (recap and Review)

Defiance - Season 3 Last week on Defiance the episode saw things come to a head with the Datak Tarr family being threatened with the “unhinged, unstoppable” daughter of the dead T’evgin. It also saw Doc Yewll released from the control of Kindzi and the Omec were being stopped from feeding. Kindzi had Luke and Andina died.

This week in Upon the March We Fittest Die, aka the season finale, Yewll finds complete redemption and sacrifices are made by many, some are ultimate in nature and others are life changing.

At the start of the episode, which begins where last week’s ended, Kindzi has knocked out Alak and has baby Luke. Stahma pleads with the new Omec leader for her grandchild’s life. Just as Kindzi tells Stahma that the baby will die anyway, Datak shows up with his bionic arm and that long “Wolverine-type” blade.  He shoves this through Kindzi’s neck pinning her to the wall. The Omec “All Mother” screams with rage and pain as she struggles against the sword shoved into her neck.

“You’ve upset my wife,” he yells and as the family Tarr escape, Alak (Jesse Rath) gets the line of the evening.

It is the actor’s delivery that sells it, “How is she still alive??” Alak is amazed and terrified and Rath shows it with this one line. Just brilliant.

*Sidenote*This line does almost get overshadowed by Grant Bowler’s performance towards the end of the finale. That “big-kid” grin of excitement as he prepares to leave is just brilliant.

After Datak rescues his family, sadly losing that cool blade in the process,  and the lawkeepers are talking strategy. This is a brilliant scene, the group (Nolan, Irisa, Berlin and Amanda) are eating while Yewll observes. The topic is about the Omec being weak when they arrive and getting stronger when they feed. Great set up as that is exactly what the lawkeepers are doing. Tarr comes in with a shotgun to kill Doc Yewll.

Nolan talks Datak down and tells the Castithan that Yewll is “back on our team.” “Yeah? Are you sure,” asks Datak. Doc gets the second best line of the episode as she shouts back, “Yes! I’m sure! We’re all sure!” The camera pans over to Irisa and Amanda who nod affirming that Doc is back on Team Defiance.

Yewll goes on to prove her good intent by outlining how to blow the Omec ship to pieces. When Nolan asks Doc how she knows so much about Omec ships, she replies, “it is entirely possible I’ve done this before.” This answer reveals a lot behind the question of who sabotaged the Omec ships before. Yewll asks for volunteers to go to the ship.

Nolan and Irisa volunteer as does Datak. “If the mayor will have me,” he says. Amanda replies, “Ship full of Omec…A violent psychopath could come in handy.” “Be my pleasure to serve,” Tarr says and Stahma mutters in Castithan, “I married a fool.” She is not, obviously, pleased at his decision to go on what could be a one way trip.

Amanda goes to tell the citizens that the Omec are no longer allies. Her speech is combination warning and a mea culpa admission. She apologizes for putting her constituents in harm’s way. Irisa and Alak have a moment with Luke. Apparently he is not too disturbed by Andina’s death as he invites Nolan’s daughter to come visit after everything has calmed down.

Berlin and Amanda are talking when they hear gunfire, it is one of the Omec’s intended victims from last week shooting an Omec who is collecting “food.” The man collapses after being tased  and Amanda is wounded after a brief standoff. Berlin shoots the Omec who badly cuts Rosewater.

Defiance - Season 3
Nolan carries a wounded Amanda to get treated.

Nolan comes and grabs Amanda taking her to Doc Yewll’s office. She is treated and it looks very bad for the mayor of Defiance.

The team of volunteers leave Rosewater at the clinic, where Samir monitors her process and Stahma tends to Amanda’s needs. The group of volunteers head to old St. Louis and use the pods to access the Omec Ship. Yewll asks for someone to go first and Nolan leaps to the platform, “I’ll be point,” he shouts.

Yewll says dryly, “Like I had to ask…”

When they arrive, Doc places herself in a control pod. She has to be plugged in to manipulate the ship. The plan is to start the engines and have Nolan shut the vents causing them to overheat and explode. Datak and Irisa help Doc while Nolan fights off security bots until Yewll can shut them down.

Back in Defiance, Amanda wakes up, despite the sedative that Doc Yewll ordered for her, and hears a baby crying. Rosewater picks up a gun from the floor and with her wound steadily dripping blood she follows the noise. Slowly she goes out of the infirmary and into the street. The Omec have taken everyone from Yewll’s. Earlier, Amanda sees one of the Omec decide not to take her “Spoiled meat,” the creature grunts , turning away from the mayor’s drugged and inert form. Rosewater sees the Omec in the street and shouts, “Hey a**holes!” As they turn to take her, she fires killing them all. As Stahma approaches, Amanda smiles and collapses.

Defiance - Season 3
Doc Yewll back on Team Defiance

Doc Yewll continues to operate the ship while fighting off the system’s firewall.

*Sidenote* Trenna Keating as Yewll, rocks it in this episode. Her delivery as the Indogene “savior” was spot on and she almost pipped Jesse Rath to the “line of the evening award” with her response to Tony Curran’s Datak Tarr line, “No, you’re a real person with enormous honor and infinite soul.” Yewll pauses for a moment and then says, “Just stick it in me, sailor. ” She is amused and obviously pleased at Tarr’s comment.

Earlier in the episode, before the “Hey a**holes” incident, Amanda and Stahma share a moment in the infirmary. Both are strong women and very different. Stahma reveals she is frustrated by the fact that the one woman she admires can never be her friend. Amanda reveals that Stahma frustrates her as she often does not do her best. Two frustrated women who will most likely never be friends but who know understand one another.

As Nolan begins the process of destroying the Omec ship, Kindzi (Nichole Galicia) shows up and the two battle for control.  As she and Joshua fight, Kindzi tells him that he is a “natural born predator.” “You are no better than me,” she says. The Omec leader begins to open her jaws to feast on her one time pet and Nolan, as he pulls a knife from Kindzi’s belt, replies, “When you’re right, you’re right.” 

He plunges the knife into the side of her head and heaves Kindzi over the edge of the platform and she falls down to the engines below. Her snarling and screaming  descent is interrupted twice by beams before she falls into the whirling blades at the bottom.

Kindzi is chopped to bits.

*Sidenote* Even if Nolan had not killed Kindzi, or if they had not opted to destroy the Omec ship, it was apparent that her days as “All Mother” may have been very limited. Her madness was obvious to her own people. Her edict that it was alright for Omec to eat Omec may just have been that despotic, and insane, step too far. 

Nolan starts the ship back up, Kindzi had stopped the process that Yewll started, with the taser she used on him. Doc tells him and the rest to get out. Irisa tells Joshua that she is staying. The two share a moment. Irisa tells her father that the Omec deserve a chance to live. Nolan asks Doc if there is a way to vent the energy and not blow up the ship.

Yewll reveals that they can vent the energy but it will “slingshot” the ship out into space with no chance of it ever finding Earth again. “Well, that’s kind of what I was going for,” Joshua says. He goes to hug his daughter and  taser’s Irisa, he then puts her in the descent pod.

The “Butcher of Yosemite” has decided to go with the Omec ship. Later Irisa says, via voice over, that the people of Defiance say Joshua “saved the world” and name the rebuilt arch after him. Irisa finishes her narration with, “He’d laugh his a** off about that if he were here.”

The season finale of Defiance was an adrenaline fueled mix of comedy (Doc Yewll) and tragedy (Doc Yewll and Nolan.) along with some pretty satisfying moments. Kindzi finally getting her just deserts and the Tarr family finally getting over the death of Luke’s human mother were two of these satisfying moments as was Doc Yewll and Datak Tarr regaining their friendship.

Kudos to Trenna Keating, Grant Bowler (who obviously will not be back if the show is approved for a fourth season) and Nicole Galicia as Kindzi. The Defiance writers pulled out all the stops for this end show of the season and it was appreciated by all who watched the finale.

*Final Sidenote*Julie Benz proved, yet again, what big chops she has. It was a cold hearted viewer who felt nothing when she had her scene with Julie Murray (another performer with mammoth chops) and then that beautiful smile (at Stahma) before she collapsed…Whew, tissues required for both of those scenes. Aw Ms. Benz, “We are not worthy…”

Dark Matter: Season Finale (review)

Dark Matter - Season 1

Last week’s episode of Dark Matter saw an entire planet blown to pieces by the tech stolen by Wexler and the crew from the Raza. The episode also had Two coming back on board after being blown out of the air lock the previous week. Things in the verse are getting even more interesting and this week, Five dreams about what things were like when she was caught on board the Raza as a stowaway.

Five remembers what the crew were like “pre-memory” wipe and (with the exception of Six and One) no one was  overly keen about  keeping her on the ship. Two states clearly she does not want a “child” on the ship and leaves the deciding vote up to Four (Rio she calls him) and he votes to allow Five to stay. “Welcome aboard little warrior,” he says, “Just don’t give me any cause to regret my decision.”

After her rather unenthusiastic welcome, Five puts a recording device under a table in the dining hall/room. It has remained there, uncollected and forgotten, until her dream and Five goes to collect it. On the recording, Two  and Four are talking about killing someone, “him” before they head to the mining colony and after they get out of stasis.

Meanwhile Calchek contacts the group and tells them Ferrous Corp has hired them for a job. A simple “snatch and grab” he says. A scientist has been kidnapped and is being held on a small “backwater planet.” In and out, he says.

It is a trap.

Two is the objective here. Alex (Will Wheaton) wants the engineered human back, he calls her Rebecca,  and the “scientist” forces the remaining Raza crew members to leave (after hosting a dinner for all those who arrived with Two and providing an explanation). The crew of the Raza now have to figure out how to get “Rebecca” back. The Android comes up with a plan and Five (who gets a gun shoved in her hand) stays on the ship.

Rebecca has been “disarmed” all her nanites shut down via dampeners which weakens her considerably. She is restrained and due to be studied. One scientist is particularly nasty as he had friends at the facility where she escaped. (Two killed  43 technicians and scientists while leaving and  some of the victims were friends of this snarky chap.) Later he tells Rebecca that  he is going to  “test your pain receptors,” as he starts up the electrical bone saw.

This first half of the season finale has The Android going above and beyond for her fellow Raza crew member much to the consternation of her computerized self. “Rebecca” tries to escape and Alex orders her destroyed. Android does a “Captain America” and walks off the back of the shuttle.

Android infiltrates the facility to turn off the dampeners. After a comic entrance, Six has just told the rest of the crew in the shuttle Android will silently enter the place and on screen the robot noisily dispatches the security guards she encounters. After the men have been neutralized, she moves to find the dampener. The controls are working on Android as well and she has to struggle to finish her task.

The robot actually goes to sacrifice herself for Two.  Androids willingness to “die”, is oddly human and, even with her flawed system, it is impressive and touching. When the program she created lectures her on leaving the ship, Android explains that  she is saving her friends. The program reminds Android that it is a machine. “A machine with friends,” Android replies.

After almost dying, or more accurately, ceasing to function, Android meets up with Rebecca in the dining hall of the facility where Two has reads  message left by Alex “Maybe next time.” The villain with the beard beat a hasty retreat when Two escaped before they could remove her brain.  Chillingly, but in a very satisfying way, Rebecca told the scientists in the room that she would kill them all and she does.

On the shuttle, the men are getting impatient. Three gets the line of the first half of the finale when he questions why Android has not blown anything up, “It’s not rocket science,” he says. Android shuts down the dampener and Rebecca gets out. The two then blow up the facility.

It has to be pointed out that the music in the first half of the season finale is more than perfect. A driving, mechanical beat of techno music that feels…right. After Two is back onboard the Raza we learn about who Rebecca was made for. A weak and apparently old man is on a hospital gurney and on life support. He asks Alex how old the body is that he occupies. “24,” replies Alex.

After ascertaining that the whole crew know what Rebecca is, the “old man” orders the entire crew to be killed. Before this order is given, back on the ship, there is a celebration and afterward Five listens to the recording again. At the very end of the first half, someone collects the crowd control taser and zaps the Android putting her out of commission

There are a number of things revealed here, one being that Will Wheaton’s character is more lackey than big bad and Five can program.  Of course the biggest reveal is that Two and Four were ready to kill a member of the Raza crew way back in episode one.

Dark Matter Season 1

The second half of the episode begins with the discovery that the Android has had her neural link removed and that someone else has control of the Raza.  A lot is revealed while the crew start losing members and trust flies out the airlock. Rather interestingly, the last two members who trust each other and team up against One are the two who voted to boot Five off the ship in her dream/memory at the beginning of the finale.

This is where we learn who wiped the crews’ memories (Five) and why (to save the person that Two and Four were going to kill). As pointed out by Android earlier, the code was crude and rushed and as Six points out, wiping everyone’s memory was not the intention, nor was it done to harm anyone. It was, Six says, done to save someone.

Two and Five find that the Android grabbed a patch from her attacker,  it looks as though it is from the soldiers who boarded the ship earlier (episode 11). The crew then search for any left over soldiers and Three gets the “line” of the second half as well. “Nobody messes with my robot.”  Two and three team up and she tries to thanks him for giving up the code when she was in the airlock. He messes up her “thank you.”

One and Four team up to search the ship and Four reveals he plans to go home and claim his throne. Six and Five are the last pairing and she tells Six that she feels part of the team. Six tells her that it is ironic as they have all been trying to be more like her and they failed, that in the end they can only be themselves.  Five responds that is not true that they are now family.

Five searches the vents and finds nothing. It is finally decided that there is no one else on the ship, the person who zapped Android and took her neural chip is one of the crew. Two realizes that the stun device that Wexler used on Android before is missing and only the Raza crew members know the code to the vault where the taser was kept.

Six recommends that they all stick together but Four goes to his room to train. Three gives One a vote of “no confidence” while talking to Two and he tells her that the man cannot be trusted. One goes to see Four and tells him who he really is and why he came on board as Jace Corso. He tells Four that it must be Three who is the culprit.

Five is convinced that it is Two who took out the Android. She believes that something happened to Two on the planet while Alex and his scientists had control of her. The crew meet in the dining hall to talk strategy and after Three and One have a go at one another, Four tells his shipmates that he will be in his room training. After drinking a glass of water, he passes out.

The next to go down is Six who is injected with something that knocks him out. Five is given a gun and locked in the bridge. Two and Three force One into his quarters and lock him in. One calls Five and asks her to get him out. Five meets the program that Android created to observe her and after learning that the computer generated version of the Android will recommend that the robot be put back to her factory settings, Five orders the program to delete itself.

Two and Three learn that Five has gotten out and the remaining crew members meet in a standoff situation. Two and Three have their guns trained on One, who has his gun on Three and Five has her gun trained on Two. The girl attempts to tell everyone that Two is behind all the problems because she came back from the planet different. Five insists that they, the scientists,  did something to Two.

In the meantime another  ship comes out of FTL and it is a Galactic Authority vessel. The cops have arrived. As the four Raza crew members face off,  the doors either end of the hallway close and two canisters are thrown in; emitting smoke. The four armed crew members crumple to the floor and Five tries to open the doors but passes out.

GA troops flood through the ship and before the end credits roll, the entire crew sans one are carried off by the authorities. The one crew member still standing, and walking behind the rest, is Six. Cue shock face.

The second half of the season finale was a proper whodunit.  Fingers were pointing to a number of suspects, between the crew, and for a long while it appeared that Five was behind the whole thing.  Six as the “mole” (or turncoat, or traitor…) was a complete shock, although if one watches the episode again there are clues…

It is interesting to note that after the episode where Five shot Cain, everyone seemed to be shoving a gun into the kid’s hand.  Just as interesting is the effect that recording had on Five and her trust levels. Admittedly, Two was not such a nice individual in the dream/memory and if Four (Rio?) had not voted positively, Five would have been history.

Rather interestingly, the trust that built up over the first season fell apart with the attack on Android and the family lose their cohesion.

This season finale had a brilliant reveal. Six was the traitor and the signs are there, although the money here at MikesFilmTalk was on Five as the one who sabotaged the Android, and a number of other things, but it was obviously Six. Kudos to Roger Cross whose facial expressions and dialogue hinted that he was the one who “gave up the crew” before the reveal.

Kudos to Anthony Lemke, Zoie Palmer, Jodelle Ferland, Mark Bendavid, Alex Mallari Jr., Roger Cross and Melissa O’Neil for bringing their respective characters to living breathing life, or in Palmer’s case mechanical life. Honorable mentions go to Pin star David Hewlett and guest star Ruby Rose as Wendy “dunking the cosmic donut” pleasure robot.

Dark Matter Season 1
“I just remember cooking and cleaning and dunking the cosmic donut.” – Wendy Episode 1.7.

Dark Matter ended on one heck of a cliff hanger and the ultimate reveal of the season and now all that remains is for SyFy to renew the series for another season, and another and another. MikesFilmTalk spoke with show runner/creator Joseph Mallozzi about the season finale and the show in general and that will be up shortly on the site. The Time Zone Deities have yet to work out Alex Mallari Jr.’s schedule but hopefully he will stop by for a chat as well.

Let MikesFilmTalk know what you thought of the season finale in the comment section below.

 

 

 

Dominion: The Longest Mile Home (recap and review)

Dominion - Season 2
After last week’s more “light-hearted” (speaking of The Home Depot scenario here) approach, amidst the Gabriel self-sacrifice play so Michael could escape and help Alex, this week in Dominion; The Longest Mile Home is, in a word, shocking. From the moment we first see that (despite David shooting him in an  earlier episode) William has survived his journey through the wilderness of Arizona and returned to Vega.

This episode has a high body count and the dead includes Zoe, who surprisingly did not die at the Armory although most of her troops did, except for David. It is not just the deaths that surprise however there is  the outcome of certain death faced by General Riesen. There was a brilliant reveal with Riesen where we learn he was not a soldier but a civilian on a military base. When the place is overrun by lower angels turning soldiers into eight-balls he takes the uniform, and identity of Riesen. We also learn that it was on this day  Clementine became an eight-ball.

Michael drops by to save Alex and Noma. Although they may not have needed too much aid as Alex had just chopped off the chainsaw carrying eight-ball’s head with his own saw when the archangel arrived. Later, it looks like  “Father” from Mallory reached out and saved Alex and Nomes as well. Michael finds a number of eight-balls outside the farmhouse where the chosen one and Noma had spent the night. Michael recognizes this type of death from the small town.

Arika is found out, by Gates (he is not a computer/electrical wiz for nothing), and her time is running out. Claire and Gates set up both Zoe and Arika with “mis-information” that the Queen of Helena shared with David. Clementine works on Edward to accept Julian’s offer of becoming a Dyad and immortal. Meanwhile Julian “targets” Gabriel with drugs to control his mind.

Claire and Gates send troops not to take the armory on Zoe’s side of the trench, though they lead Arika to believe that this is the objective.  Instead the agri-tower is the objective and they blow up the rebel’s weapon store killing all but Zoe and David.

William Whele stumbles into a bar and hungrily attacks a peanut snack bowl. As he tells the bartender and the bar’s only other customer who he is, the patron accuses him of lying. Whele leaves and later meets the man in the alley behind the bar, he brutally kills the man and takes his money.

The drugs work on Gabriel who believes that he escapes and then has a sexual trust with Claire Riesen, Noma and Arika. He wakes up still in chains and his chair surrounded by three women and Julian explains his plan. Destroy the archangel’s mind, take it over and then control his body.

After the armory explosion, Zoe is taken captive as is Arika and her retinue (which includes the doctor). Julian tells Edward Riesen that Vega has fallen into civil war and that Claire has lost the baby. He continues to push the Dyad solution to the dying man. “Dyad-ism” says Julian, “you will remain Edward Riesen in every way.”

Off screen, Riesen takes the Dyad deal. Back at Vega, David shows up with his men to fight with Zoe. They wait for troops who never show and when the armory is blown up, Whele leaves Zoe to her fate. Later, Claire goes to see the young rebel leader in her cell. After explaining her disappointment in Zoe for not accepting her moves of peace and her anger that Zoe has forced into a war “without mercy,” Lady Riesen shoots young rebel leader right between the eyes.

William Whele tells a bar full of patrons about his time in the desert and meeting the hand of God. He talks of God saving him from thieves. As he tells his story, Gates has a drink and Arika’s doctor has poisoned Claire’s “right-hand man.” Back at the bar, Whele takes off his shirt revealing a torso full of scars claiming that he is the chosen one who will root out evil from Vega.

Back at New Delphi, Gabriel learns that he cannot control Julian’s eight-balls and he also finds out that his captor has gotten the amphora from General Riesen. Edward has taken the Dyad offer after all.

This episode had some stand out moments some of which were shocking, disturbing and upsetting.

Moments of Note:

The General Riesen backstory: Edward’s humble beginnings are shown. He was a civilian clerk at an Army base who read a lot. His reference to the Sun Tzu Art of War book, “All warfare is based on deception,” is placed right before the actual attack on Zoe’s and David’s troops on their side of the trench. This move is, as mentioned by Riesen in the flashback, total deception. Brilliant.

Dead eight-balls: The burnt eight-balls seen by Michael, Alex and Nomes. The discovery of the bodies happens before the recounting of William Whele’s tale of the six horsemen. Clearly the same Father is responsible, both the Mallory eight-balls and Whele’s thieves are touched by the same hand.

Pistol packing  Lady Riesen: Claire shooting Zoe in the jail cell. A true jaw dropping moment, Zoe had not even stopped talking when Lady Riesen pulls that trigger. (One assumes that Arika will suffer a similar fate very shortly, especially when it is discovered that Gates has been poisoned.)

Dyad-ism: General Riesen choses to become a Dyad. Those eyes…

*Sidenote* William Whele, who was not the most sane of men before his exile, has come back mad as a hatter. Clearly his time with the eight-balls has driven him even further into la-la land.

The end of the episode has Gabriel looking in horror at the amphora in Julian’s hand and one is left wondering if Vega is doomed. The gunfighter angel (in last week’s episode) tells Noma to take Alex to the east, does this mean that Vega will not be saved? Is Gates doomed as well? That looked suspiciously like blood on that napkin (a sort of Takashi Miike touch a’la Fudoh: The New Generation without the gallons of claret gushing but enough to make the connection.).

Anthony Head is brilliant as the scheming Whele senior and the return of Luke Allen-Gale as his estranged son William was an excellent move to have the double act back, as the father/son duo with the love/hate relationship. Alan Dale stood out as the dying Riesen and Roxanne McKee rocked as Claire Riesen in this episode. Sadly, it looks like Nic Bishop may be leaving the show, time will tell whether his character caught the poison quickly enough. Kudos to Carl Beukes as Gabriel, his archangel’s lines were pithy and very spot on this week.

Dominion airs Thursdays on SyFy, do not miss this epic battle between good and evil and all things in-between.

Dark Places: Charlize Theron and Bleak Americana From Gillian Flynn

Charlize Theron as Libby Day

From the pen of Gone Girl author Gillian Flynn; Dark Places, starring Charlie Theron,  gives us a slice of Americana that is indeed dark and very bleak. Where the dream has soured and affected all who dared to believe in it. A brother and sister who lived through a horrendous childhood event meet up years later after each have paid a price for their past lies.

It appears that Flynn’s books are made to be adapted for the cinema. The 2014 adaptation of Gone Girl was an award winning film that impressed all who saw it, it also proved that Rosamund Pike is one hell of an actress and that even Ben Affleck can look like a murderer in the right light.

Directed by Gilles Paquet-Brenner, who also wrote the screenplay, Dark Places tells the story of Libby Day, the only other survivor from the 1985 Kansas City massacre of her family (her brother Ben – in prison for the murders for 28 years being the other).  12 year-old Libby climbed out a window on the fateful night of the slaughter and then follows suggestions from the local police that her brother committed the murders.

Years later an emotionally scarred Libby is out of money in a community out of good will. She gets a letter from a true crime club, called “Kill Club,” who want her to appear as a guest at their next convention. She meets entrepreneur and club owner Lyle Wirth. After she arrives, Libby learns that the club’s “solver” group want to prove her brother’s innocence.

This is an actor’s film. From Dan Hewitt Owens as retired cop Robert reading off the details of the crime at the Kill Club to Chloë Grace Moretz as the pregnant devil worshipping rich girl, this movie’s performers deliver, in spades. Nicolas Hoult (who worked on Mad Max: Fury Road with Theron) is perfect as the entrepreneurial laundromat owner who wants to solve a grave miscarriage of justice.

Charlize Theron is beyond brilliant as the moody, aloof and aggressive grown up Libby. Corey Stoll (who plays the lead in FX networks’s The Strain) plays the grown up Ben, the brother charged with and imprisoned for the murders of his mother (Christina Hendricks) and two of his three sisters. Stoll has very little screen-time but manages to say volumes with the small amount of time he is on screen. 

The child actors, Sterling Jerins as 12 year-old Libby and Tye Sheridan as 16 year-old Ben both deliver, as do the other “child” actors. Perhaps the most disturbing performance, and therefore most impressive, comes from Moretz. After her romantic role in If I Stay and her role as the teen prostitute in The Equalizer in 2014, she channels her darker, more adult, side and is suitably creeper and disturbing as Diondra, the rebellious Daddy’s girl.

Dark Places uses well placed flashbacks to bring the viewer ever closer to the real story behind the murders and this works well as both exposition and backstory reveals. As the film moves to its conclusion,  it is learned that past and present are intertwined and a lot more lies were told than either Libby or Ben realized.

Director Paquet-Brenner does a brilliant job with the film and cinematographer Barry Ackroyd (The Hurt Locker, Captain Phillips) manages the switch between present day and the past brilliantly, the lighting changes between each, and as usual the film looks crisp and clear and spot on for each set piece.

Like Gone Girl, this film is a mystery/thriller.  Both female protagonists, in this film and GG, are flawed, psychologically damaged individuals. Theron’s character provides an intermittent voice over, posed as inner musings, that adds much to the story and, unlike other narrative films, does not intrude but helps to lets the viewer see her thought process.

There should be some serious gongs handed out to the performers come award time. Theron kills it as the flawed and scarred survivor and Moretz plays completely against type as the devil worshipping girlfriend.  This tale of lies, blocked memories and murder shows just how addictive Gillian Flynn’s work is.

Amazingly this feature is rated ‘R,’ apparently for the violence, which is not gory or overplayed at all and the sexual content which is pretty tame. Moretz’ character does have some hurried grapplings with Tye Sheridan’s character but, similar to her love scene in If I Stay , Chloe shows nothing in the way of anatomy. The language is a bit “close to the bone,” at one point Sean Bridgers as Runner Day, Libby’s estranged father calls wife Patty (Hendricks) the “C” word, which may be the main reason for the rating.

Dark Places is a compelling look at family tragedy and how scarred survivors of crime can be.  This is a 5 out of 5 stars film. At 113 minutes, the film moves at a rapid pace. Even with the multiple flashbacks this mystery grabs the viewers attention and holds it in a  vise-like grip right up to the final credits.

Stitchers: A Poll (and a Theory)

EMMA ISHTA, KYLE HARRISIn the time since Stitchers first season ended with Cameron dead and not being revived (while Kirsten yells his name over and over…) there are only so many places to watch old episodes. Hulu has two whole episodes, be still my beating heart (Sorry Cam.).

ABC have an “on-demand” option to re-watch the first season apparently and then there are sites where one can access the show’s first season.  So out of boredom and a need to see who else is thinking of  Stitchers, a poll was created.

For those who had the wherewithal to record the episodes on DVR (And really…why wouldn’t you?) getting that Stitchers fix is a bit easier. By the end of the show’s finale, it looked like the question of Ms. Clark and Dr. Goodkin becoming a couple, aka “Will they, won’t they?” was (pardon the pun) possibly a dead issue. If Cameron does not make it back into the world of the living, who will Kirsten turn to for support?

Sure the show is about so much more than link ups between workmates and colleagues. It has a pretty intricate plot with so many questions that need answering.

For Example:

The whole, is Kirsten’s father (Who turned out to  be C. Thomas Howell…how cool is that?) still alive and if so where is he and what is he doing scenario.

Who was Barbiero talking to, in the car and on that cell phone …And who killed him?

Linus with his, “nobody likes me, everybody hates me” storyline.

Liam’s phone call (To whom?) where he asks about plan B.

Les Turner…

Quincy seems to be doing okay in hospital and Camille is the only member of the team with no real “outstanding” issues at the moment (apart from Linus being totally p*ssed at her for not telling the then live Cameron that he should pilot).  Maggie proved that regardless of any doubts beforehand that she supports her stitchers team. All of them.

While waiting for the Halloween special, it was decided to look at the more romantic side of the show and see who fans think Kirsten should link up with.

Be advised, one answer does kind of depend on Cameron being revived… (Although not necessarily – see theory for further explanation.)

The question for the poll  is…”Who should Kirsten link up with in the show?” In other words who do you think her perfect mate is? But before answering that question by clicking on the below suggestions, or adding your own, check out the theory.

Time for that theory:

Anyone watching the season finale will remember the secret footage of Kirsten’s dad giving her Temporal Dysplasia and “killing” her mother while trying to rescue mom from her coma.

So…

What if Mother did not die? It only looks like the poor woman expired. Perhaps mother is still alive somewhere, not necessarily in a coma (which this viewer believes to be the case). If Kirsten’s mom is alive this brings us neatly to the theory:

What if Cameron does not die and ends up comatose? Could Kirsten then, with the updated technology that Cameron himself structured, talk to him while he is in the coma?  It sounds a little like a variation of the Jennifer Lopez film The Cell (Her character entered into the minds of  others and interacted with them.) This would give the second season a completely different slant and allow Kirsten to be with Cameron although only in the metaphorical sense.

There it is, the  theory. What do you think? Possible, not possible?

Down below is the poll. There is absolutely nothing to be gained by participating. It is just for fun…and to see who fans think should be in the “will they, won’t they” running. Plus, it is a little something to keep minds on the ABC Family show until its Halloween Special. Anyone who has ideas, or an idea, for future polls about other characters…like, for instance, who you would like to see have a bigger role in future (think Tim from engineering…) please leave suggestions in the comment section.

The same holds true for ideas of what Cameron’s fate may be, thoughts and suggestion in the comment section please and thank you.

Dark Matter Two Hour Season Finale (Preview)

Will Wheaton, Alex Mallari Jr and Mark Bendavid
Fans of Dark Matter who have been tuning in each week, and/or binge watching via Hulu, will be stunned by events that take place over the course of the season finale. Two hours of this exciting verse in one sitting that will leave the viewer gasping as the end credits roll and asking a collective question or several. MikesFilmTalk has seen the finale and part of the price of admission, for those who have been allowed to “pre-view” the season finale footage, is to avoid  spoilers so not much can be revealed…yet.

While this does make it difficult to go too in depth on events, some things are admissible. For instance, the presence of Will Wheaton as guest “villain” has been mentioned by at least one other website, TIBS (ThreeIfBySpace.NET) who do a riff on the beard that Wheaton’s character sports in the first half of the two hour finale. So it is acceptable to mention that “that kid from Star Trek: The Next Generation” is the guest big bad.

Preview recap: Two learns more than she wants about her beginnings, One and Three still do not trust one another, Five learns something that upsets her deeply, Four proves he trusts no one and Six plays protector when Five reveals how afraid she is. The Android shows just how much her program is flawed and Calchek may or may not have set up the crew of the Raza yet again.

In another one of those nods to the science fiction genre, we have Wheaton as what seems like the kindly puppet master (maker?)  aka kidnapped scientist, who the team are sent to “rescue.” Alas, things are not as they seem and it is soon all hands on deck as the crew of the Raza fight for their very existence.

As promised by show creator/executive producer Joseph Mallozzi, a lot is revealed in the last episode of the season as in every episode building up to the finale. For whatever reason, the last two episodes have been slapped together so a lot more is discovered while simultaneously asking new questions.

As this is a preview and not a review or recap, things can only be looked at in the vaguest sense. (As mentioned above.) So Two learns about her origins, but not too much or, more importantly, why. Alex (Wheaton) may be the welcoming committee but he is no more the man behind the curtain than he is the chap who is really in charge.

In these last two episodes we learn just how brave Five is and a lot more about her abilities. There are some disturbing things brought to light and Android does something very surprising.

Thus endeth the short recap/preview.

This series has been top notch in not only peeling back layers for each mysterious character in the show but also in keeping just enough back to make the viewer  return for more. Each member of the crew has secrets and the season has slowly exposed them. There are, however,  a number of things that still remain hidden. There are also those nods and winks to other works in the genre.

One thing is certain, Five learns something that shakes her faith in another crew member and this unsettling information is weighing on her mind. Although what is apparent from the moment things go awry, the trust factor has been damaged with more of the Raza crew than just the youngest member of the team.

Five’s backstory has not yet been revealed and now, with the surprise ending of Dark Matter, there is now another character whose history may be a little different than originally shown in the show. The series zooms out of thriller territory and lands firmly in mystery as the finale becomes a cross between Ten Little Indians and a very large “closed room” scenario.

There are still enough comic moments to keep things from getting too heavy  (But not too many.) and there is still that Mass Effect 2 thing going on. Fans of the show will enjoy this last look at season one. Some characters, despite the new “suspicions” continue to act in character…except for one that is.

Zoie Palmer fans will love her performance and as the Android, Palmer does more than touch the viewer’s heart, she keeps them on the edge of their seat for an impressive amount of time. Wheaton as villain also stands out. (Only Will can manage to be so “snotty” in his villainy and yet unsurprisingly, turn out to be a little “b*tch” when things get tough.)

*Sidenote* It is nice to see David Hewlett back as “handler” Talbor Calchek. There can never be too much Hewlett.

Dark Matter airs on Friday as part of SyFy Friday and the season finale will air on August 28. Prepare to be amazed at the end of the first season. Readers of MikesFilmTalk can expect an interview with show creator Joseph Mallozzi and, if the time zone Gods play along, another interview with Four, aka Alex Mallari Jr. talk will be of the finale and the verse. Not necessarily in that order…